Student Center Board versus the Dean of Students

The atmosphere at Rice was tense in the spring of 1970 with two cases of arson on Rice’s campus setting the tone: a small fire at the ROTC center and an inferno that ravaged the Dean of Students’ office in the Rice Memorial Center. 

Amid the sense of instability of the era and the distrust between students and the administration fostered by the Masterson Crisis, the Student Center Board's initial request to host Abbie Hoffman and his lawyer Leonard Weinglass was not received warmly by the Dean of Students, Frederick Weirum. 

Despite days of negotiations between the SCB and the dean, the matter could not be resolved and the Student Association held an emergency senate meeting, where the controversy was appealed to the Rice Faculty University Welfare Committee.

The welfare committee ultimately upheld the dean’s edict that any event had to be closed to the public given the circumstances of the fire and the several threatening calls from the far-right and far-left that members of the administration had received regarding the possibility of a Hoffman appearance.

Eventually, the SCB voted to withdraw their request, sparking outrage among students and igniting an all-student convocation.

Click the links on the side bar for more details on the events that laid the foundation for the chaos to come.


At the all-student convocation that would arise from the eventual withdrawal of the Student Center Board's invitation to Hoffman and Weinglass, a man lies down on the bleachers, a sign behind him reading, "if free speech is dead, so is this university."

SCB and the Dean